Today we celebrate a name that we use so very often… the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit – the Blessed Trinity. We call on this name so many times and use it in so many different ways. We begin and end every prayer with the name of the Trinity, before going on a journey whether it being on a plane or in a car, before starting an exam or enjoying a meal, before an operation or when afraid of the dark… we call on the name of the Blessed Trinity in making the sign of the cross.
Even though this name is constantly on our lips, it is one of the most difficult doctrines to understand for Christians and to explain to non-Christians. The purpose of Trinity Sunday is not to explain the treatise of St Augustine or Thomas Aquinas on the Trinity nor is it for me to oversimplify this integral part of our faith by making comparison with 3-in-1 shampoos or coffee.
[Historically, the celebration of Trinity Sunday goes all the way back to the Arian heresy of the fourth century. Arius believed that Christ was a created being, and in denying the divinity of Christ, he denied that there are three Persons in God. Arius’ chief opponent, Athanasius, upheld the orthodox doctrine that there are three Persons in one God, and the orthodox view prevailed at the Council of Nicaea, from which we get the Nicene Creed, recited in most Christian churches every Sunday.]
I would like to focus my reflection on the aspect of the communion shared by the Trinity. In the weeks leading up to the Feast of the Pentecost, the daily gospel reading at mass was from John 15 – 17. Here Jesus talks about how the Father and He are one and that to have seen Him is to have seen the Father. He goes on further to say that He will not leave us orphans and that the Advocate (Holy Spirit) will come upon us.
At the beginning of every mass, the Presider greets the people with: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all (Pauline formulaic greeting). We understand love, we understand grace. What does communion mean?
It comes from the Greek word koinonia. The first usage of koinonia in the Greek New Testament is found in Acts 2:42-47, where a striking description of the “common life” shared by the early Christian believers in Jerusalem is given. In other words, it is a call to the common life in the Spirit that we all share. It is the common life that drew many people to want to know Jesus.
This is what Christians are called to do as we celebrate Trinity Sunday… to celebrate the common life and to bear witness to it. However, the common life is not easy to live. We are all different in more ways than one…but can we accept our differences? Why are we so worried about who is doing or saying what? This is the greatest obstacle to that koinonia.
To me, the most important attitude in order to live the life of communion is HUMILITY. Unfortunately this is what we struggle most often with. Jesus knew very well that it is the attitude of humility that is going to build the Kingdom and that is why His very last community life with His disciples He chose to wash their feet – His greatest sign of love expressed in the humble act of a servant.
If we want to be disciples working with Jesus to build His Kingdom, we need to live this common life which is founded on the unity of the Blessed Trinity. Let us learn to put aside our differences (unforgiveness, vengeance, gossip, grudges, anger, etc.) and seek to build on that which unites us – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.